May 15th, 1821

Today was a lazy day.

Sonia washed my hair. I know I could very well do it myself. I do not want to call the maids everytime I drop a knife like aunt Emeline does.

But Sonia enjoys washing my hair while I am sitting in the tub although she considers it a shame that I cut it above the shoulders one morning with kitchen cissors.

I stayed in the tub a few hours until my fingers turned wrinkly and the water cold. I did not talk nor wrapped my mind in watery thoughts. I listened instead. Sonia talked. She talked about her daily life, the other maids, her ill mother, the boy she likes and sees at the market, her horse-populated dreams.

I focused on her words. I felt her repressed worries, childish joy, shaken certitudes through the way her fingers were slightly pulling my hair or tracing complicated patterns on my back.

Most of the time I feel detached from many situations people are in, especially when they repeat their stories and complain about them. But because Sonia has a pretty soul and embraces whatever comes her way I listened and slowly felt a deep empathy for her.

I understood her. Truly. We often say we understand someone when we actually only perceive that someone’s attitude, reasoning or choice as logical, in tune with our principles or society’s.

I did accept her words as my own and her feelings as mine until the hot water fog dissipated.

When I came out of the tub, Sonia did not seem to notice my nudity but she stopped talking and smiled at me as if recognizing a sister.

May 14th, 1821

There is a brick cabin surrounded by silence and ivy in the back of the garden. I have never dared turning the doorknob until today.

Aunt Emeline was in town and uncle George was in his upstairs working room. It was noon. I walked around the cabin, picking very common violet flowers that grow between stones, meticulously sucking the sweet juice of the tip of their petals.

I stood before the door for a moment. The windows were covered with dust, one of them was cracked. Then I opened the door before even wanting to. The contrast with the bright spring light outside blinded me for a moment and the smell of tobacco permeated my hair and memory in an instant.

“Who is in there?” I asked.
“Nothing” a voice replied as if I had asked what was in there.

Then a face emerged from the thick darkness, a face so black I could have sworn it was painted. His eyes appeared, as white as truth, then his cigarette, broad lips, ears and jaw, as if I was witnessing a portrait being drawn before my eyes. My mind formed the words “You have the most beautiful face I have ever laid my eyes on” before I heard myself pronouncing them in a breath, loudly enough for them to hang in the dusty air between his imperial stare and my stillness.

He remained silent and stepped in the thin ray of light that was dividing the room. He was tall. I did not move.

Very slowly, his hand approached my face, making the dust in the air dance. With a finger he touched my forehead gently and traced the letters A N N on my damp skin. I closed my eyes for several seconds and when I opened them again he was already fading back into a place where people like me do not have names.

I left the cabin and walked home through low trees, feeling like a baptized child carrying a religious mystery in her untouched faith.

May 13th, 1821

I treasure the contemplative state I am often in. It gives me the illusional ability to slow time down. There are no clocks in my room. The universe compassionately seems to tune in its pace with mine. Blooming seconds.

Nature’s diversity is what fascinates me the most. Facing nature is encountering truth. Not a biblical truth about morality. Not an intellectualized truth either. A barer truth about existence which is that life is about being, not doing.

May 12th, 1821

They are gone. Daisy and Alan left the manor before I woke up. There is a floating sadness in my room, the one you feel when your father leaves the house for a long journey and does not wake you up to say goodbye even though you asked him to the night before.

The reality is that I do not know Alan nor Daisy for that matter. But the vulnerability contained in genuine tears and unrequested truth blurs the social rules. I already know what these goodbyes would have been like. There would have been a grateful intensity in her eyes. She would have held my hand a little longer. I would have noticed an inflection in her voice on the word “you” in “thank you”.

Before luncheon, I wandered in the deserted guest rooms on the second floor of the manor, carrying my soul among melancholic paintings and carved pieces of furniture. The waxed wooden floor was dappled in sunlight. The birds outside were loud. The door of the room in which Alan and Daisy stayed, at the end of the corridor, was half open. As I was approaching it, aunt Emeline came out of the room, the white of her eyes slightly pink, wet stains on her dress, a sad handkerchief in her hands. She briefly looked at me and pulled the knob behind her.

As I watched aunt Emeline walk away in this corridor with her back so straight and her emotions so carefully locked away I thought how things could be so simpler if the protagonists in the story would only dare speaking out their obvious sentiments.

But maybe I am wrong. Maybe relationships just can not be simple and I am oddly seduced by this idea.

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